We are now learning more of the details and the timeline surrounding the suspension of Tredyffrin’s police chief Andy Chambers. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the township solicitor Vince Donohue explains that there were two reasons for the Board of Supervisor’s disciplinary action and suspension of Chambers.
There were questions and speculation as to when the supervisors learned of the accident involving Chamber’s 16-year-old on November 23. According to the paper, Board of Supervisors chair Bob Lamina first learned of the incident when he received an anonymous letter on December 4. However, it was not until the day after, on December 5 that Chambers called Lamina to tell him of the incident. (which by that point, Lamina was already aware).
After conducting an investigation and interviewing 15 people, the supervisors suspended Chambers for 4 days because he (1) allowed his 16-year-old to drive a township police car, which was then involved in an accident and (2) his failure to tell the township supervisors.
As I said yesterday, I really like Andy Chambers and understand that as parents we all make mistakes. However, I had also assumed that he had owned his mistake immediately and had come forward at the time the incident occurred. Unfortunately, we now know that he waited 12 days to report the incident (after the anonymous letter detailing the incident was received). This suggests that if the anonymous letter was not received, the Board of Supervisors may never have known of the incident.
To their credit, the supervisors acted immediately with an investigation that resulted in Chamber’s suspension for 4 days. In addition to the suspension, Chambers paid for the vehicle towing, damage and mechanic’s time to repair the car, which is now back in service.
In reading the comments on the newspaper sites and on Community Matters, many have focused on the anonymous ‘whistle blower(s)’ who turned in the chief as being the real culprit. It has been suggested that this incident is not a big deal and offer that some are simply out to get the police chief.
I have to disagree. As the leader of an organization, he or she has a responsibility to ‘set the bar high’ and to lead by example. Should not be a case of ‘”Do what I say, not what I do”. However, we all make mistakes and I have a feeling that Chief Chambers will live with the regrets of this mistake for a long time.
Do I think that he should have told the supervisors back in November when the incident occurred versus waiting until after the Board of Supervisors received the anonymous letter? Yes, but again hindsight is 20-20. I wasn’t there when the incident occurred and so have no idea what went into Andy’s decision not to immediately report the incident. Presumably, he had his reasons . . .
We will hear a statement of explanation at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. I have to believe that Chambers will do his best to repair any damage inside of his department that this incident may have caused and then everyone will try to move forward.
As I said yesterday, I am disappointed in Andy Chamber’s actions but at the same time, I feel sorry for him — we’ve all had those momentary lapses of judgment. This incident just proves that even the good guys can make mistakes.